Spirit of the Sabre
Sequel to: “Spirit of the Law” and “Spirit of Love”
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When a travelling peddler arrives at Fort Sabre, he is fully intending to try to sell some of his wares. What he finds is a deserted compound. He notifies the marshal of Lewistown, who immediately sends a telegram to Fort Concho. A detail is sent to Fort Sabre to investigate the disappearance of the men. What they find is nothing. No men, no horses, no supplies. Why was the fort abandoned? That is what Lieutenant Joshua Bates, and his men, have to find out. What they do find is a shock to all of them.
SPIRIT OF THE SABRE
It was Tuesday, July 9, 1888, and the soldiers at Fort Concho, Texas, were dealing with a hot, dry morning. They were doing their best to try to keep themselves, and their horses, hydrated. Lieutenant Joshua Bates had just received a bunch of new remounts, and was trying to evaluate each horse to see which ones might be eligible for the new training program being initiated. Bates was twenty-six years old, six feet tall, and had black hair and brown eyes. He and Corporal Sandy O’Shaughnessy had been working with a ranch near Rio Madre, Texas, to learn new horse training techniques that the ranch had been developing for the cavalry. Training techniques that could save the lives of the soldiers when they went into a mounted battle with the Indians. He was now implementing those techniques at Fort Concho. There were twenty horses in this group, and he was pleased to find that about half of them should work into the program with no problem. They had not yet been broken, and that helped. The program seemed to work better when they could start with untrained mounts.
Late that afternoon, the crew had taken a break to give the horses, and themselves, a cool drink. Lieutenant Bates was about ready to get back to work when Corporal Morris hurried up to him, stopped and saluted. The Lieutenant returned his salute. “What can I do for you, Corporal?”
“Colonel Stone would like to see you right away, Sir,” Morris said, still standing at attention.
“Thanks, Corporal. Tell him I will be right there.” The Corporal saluted again and headed back to the Colonel’s office as Bates turned to one of his men. “Corporal O’Shaughnessy.”
“Yes, Sir,” the young man said, turning to the Lieutenant.
“Take over here for a few minutes, Sandy. I need to talk with the Colonel.”
“Yes, Sir,” O’Shaughnessy said, saluted, and turned back to the horses.
A few moments later, Bates entered Colonel Stone’s office, walked to his desk, and saluted.
“Sit down, Lieutenant,” Stone said, returning the salute.
Bates sat down as the Colonel sat back in his chair. “Lieutenant, I have received a telegram from the marshal in Lewistown, near Fort Sabre.
“Yes. It’s primarily a small outpost assigned to keep an eye on the Comanches in the area. It seems like a peddler stopped at the fort a couple of days ago, and instead of finding thirty soldiers, he found it deserted.”
“Apparently,” Stone said. “I would like for you to take a detachment to Fort Sabre and see if the report is true. If it is, find out what happened and where those men are. Thirty men just don’t disappear with no trace. Oh, and I sent a wire back to the sheriff, and asked him to pass the word not to go out there. That it obviously isn’t safe. Hopefully, it will make it easier for you if no one has been messing around in there.”
Bates got to his feet and saluted. “Yes, Sir. I will take about twenty, or so, men from Company B and we will head out first thing in the morning. I will leave Corporal O’Shaughnessy here to get the work with the new horses started. Oh, and with your permission, I will have my men use the horses we got from the Harris Ranch. They’re already familiar with the horses and their training. Might be a good test to see if the program really works.”
“I agree, Lieutenant,” Stone said, “and good luck.”